« 前へ次へ »
SIR WALTER SCOTT
WITHIN that small number of our countrymen who have been known and admired throughout the civilized world during this century, three hold a place of unrivalled pre-eminence, –Wellington, Scott, and Byron. Each of the three king. doms claims one of these heroes; but although Ireland and England may also point to something distinguishably national in the genius of their sons, yet it will not be disputed that Scotland is far more exclusively and fully represented by Marmion and the Heart of Midlothian, than the spirit of England by Childe Harold, or that of Ireland by the Peninsular campaigns. We read in the early ages of the world how whole nations sprang from, and were known by the name of some one great chief, to whom a more than human rank was assigned by the poetry and the gratitude of later generations. Doris and Ionia were personified in Ion and Dorus. It appears not altogether fanciful to think similarly of Scott : in
the phrase employed by the historians of Greece, he might be styled the eponymous i kero of Scotland. He sums up, or seems to sum up, in the most conspicuous
manner, those leading qualities in which his countrymen, at least his countrymen of old, differ from their fellow Britons. No one human being can, however, be completely the representative man of his race, and some points may be observed in Scott which do not altogether reflect the national image. Yet, on the whole, Mr. Carlyle's estimate will probably be accepted as the truth : “No Scotchman of his time was more entirely Scotch than Walter Scott; the good
and the not so good, which all Scotchmen inherit, ran through every fibre of him.” !
The first and best reason for attempting the sketch of a poet's life is to throw light upon his poetry. In the case of Scott, whose verse forms only the earlier balf of his writings, such a sketch would in strictness end with his forty-fifth year. It would be unpleasant, however, to break off thus : and the story of his career, even if he had not been author of “Marmion” and “Old Mortality,” is in itself one of the most interesting which we possess. An eminently good and Doble-hearted man, tried by almost equal extremes of fortune, and victorious over both,-the life of Scott would be a tragic drama in the fullest sense, moving and teaching us at once through pity, and love, and terror, even if he had not also, in many ways, deserved the title of greatness. The aim of these pages will hence be to present a biography, complete in its main points, and including some remarks
The first of our living Statesmen is not only remarkable
for the largeness of his political views and his consummate
mastery of details, but for the generous confidence with which
he regards the working classes of his fellow-countrymen, and
for his untiring energy in promoting their welfare.
is also known as a lover of the beautiful and the noble
in literature, especially as exhibited in the 'poetry of the
A popular edition of Sir Walter Scott's
Poems has therefore a double right to the sanction of his
name. The writer of the following Memoir avails himself of
the privilege which has been accorded him, and with senti
ments of the deepest admiration and respect, dedicates this
book to Mr. Gladstone.